Lung Cancer Rarer in Sunny Countries?
Study Links Sunshine to Lower Lung Cancer Rates; Vitamin D May Be Why
Dec. 18, 2007 -- A new study shows that sunshine may make lung
cancer less likely, thanks to vitamin D, which the body makes when exposed
The study tracks lung cancer rates in 111 countries. Lung cancer rates were
lower in countries along the equator than in countries far from the
The pattern held regardless of the countries' smoking statistics, note the researchers, who included
Sharif Mohr, MPH, of the University of California, San Diego's department of
family and preventive medicine.
But the findings don't mean that moving to the tropics (or ditching your
sunscreen) will prevent lung cancer.
Mohr and colleagues looked at the big picture -- national and international
trends -- but not at individual risk. They didn't test sunshine, ultraviolet
light, or vitamin D for lung cancer prevention -- and
they couldn't control for all possible influences on the data.
Other studies have linked vitamin D to lower
cancer rates. But in October, cancer researchers reported that blood levels
of vitamin D may not affect
cancer death rates, except for colorectal cancer.
Mohr and colleagues call for further studies to check the effects of vitamin
D on lung cancer risk.
Their report appears in January's edition of the Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health.